How Often Does Medical Malpractice Occur in the Delivery Room?


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The birth of a baby involves many unknowns. Expecting parents always want to know:

  • How much will the baby weigh?
  • How long will the baby be?
  • What color hair will the baby have?
  • Will the baby be a boy or girl?

Unfortunately, there are a few other unknowns that must be addressed as well.

  • Will the baby be born with a birth injury?
  • Will the mother be injured during labor and delivery?
  • Will medical malpractice occur in the delivery room?

Prevalence of Birth Injuries

Having a baby is an extremely exciting time for parents. There is nothing better than bringing a new life into this world and holding a baby that you created. However, it is also important to be realistic about the statistics that surround birth injuries. In fact, studies estimate that approximately 1 in every 9,714 babies in the United States is born with a birth injury.

We always think that these types of things will “happen to someone else,” but the reality is that the possibility exists for a birth injury to occur in each and every situation. There is no way to fully eliminate this risk.

Types of Medical Malpractice in the Delivery Room

Medical malpractice in the delivery room occurs when a doctor, nurse, hospital, or any other member of the medical team fails to provide a patient with reasonable care, and injury occurs to the patient. While we typically think about the baby when discussing birth-related injuries, this type of medical malpractice also involves injuries that the mother faces.

Infant Injuries

In the U.S., roughly 28,000 infants suffer from a birth injury each year. Some of the most commonly seen birth injuries in babies include:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Erb’s palsy
  • Brachial plexus
  • Brain damage
  • Bone fractures
  • Nerve damage
  • Meconium aspiration syndrome
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Nerve damage
  • Injuries from forceps or other devices used to aid in delivery
  • Premature delivery that could have been prevented
  • Stillbirth

Mother Injuries

The mother is also extremely vulnerable during labor and delivery. Instances of medical malpractice that involve the mother can occur when the medical team providing treatment fails to:

  • Properly monitor a mother during labor and delivery
  • Identify pre-eclampsia
  • Take the necessary precautions for a mother who has pre-eclampsia
  • Diagnose placental abnormalities
  • Anticipate birth complications when warning signs were present
  • Promptly respond to signs of fetal distress
  • Perform a Cesarean section when it became necessary
  • Competently use forceps or other delivery aids
  • Alert the doctor when the condition of the mother or baby changes
  • Administer medications correctly

How Do These Errors Happen?

We rely on doctors, nurses, and medical facilities to provide patients with the best possible care. We put our lives in their hands, and we trust that they will do everything in their power and use all of their knowledge to help both mother and baby through the labor and delivery process. Unfortunately, not all medical professionals treat this responsibility as they should.

While most childbirths go smoothly and without any complications, it is easy for one act of negligence to turn a normal childbirth into an instance of medical malpractice. Especially with so many medical professionals involved in a woman’s labor and delivery, there is plenty of opportunity for something to go wrong. Negligence can occur on behalf of OB/GYNs, labor and delivery nurses, midwives, hospitals, and/or labor and delivery facilities.

For example, let’s say that a mother has been in labor for a while, but things are not progressing. The nurse who has been monitoring the mother and baby notices that the baby is beginning to show signs of distress, and she alerts the doctor of these changes. The doctor fails to do anything or perform a Caesarean section, and the baby is eventually born with brain damage because of oxygen deprivation. Sadly, this negative outcome could have been prevented if the doctor had not been negligent in the medical care that was provided.

Legal Justice for Medical Malpractice in the Delivery Room

If you believe that you, your baby, or a loved one suffered from a severe injury during labor and delivery because of negligence, it is important to contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney. The attorneys at Ross Feller Casey are the recognized leaders in birth injury lawsuits in Pennsylvania and across the nation. Contact the leading birth injury lawyers at Ross Feller Casey to learn more about your legal options and to receive a free case evaluation.

Disclaimer: Ross Feller Casey, LLP provides legal advice only after an attorney-client relationship is formed. Our website is an introduction to the firm and does not create a relationship between our attorneys and clients. An attorney-client relationship is formed only after a written agreement is signed by the client and the firm. Because every case is unique, the description of awards and summary of cases successfully handled are not intended to imply or guarantee that same success in other cases. Ross Feller Casey, LLP represents catastrophically injured persons and their families in injury and wrongful death cases, providing legal representation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.